With more than 45 years in the fashion industry, Carol Hanlon is something of design and small-business Guru.
Carol’s extensive entrepreneurial life began in the late 1960s in the famous
Flinders Lane, Melbourne and later in Geelong, Victoria. From 1973 to 1993,
she ran her own fashion design business, managing design, manufacturing,
wholesale, retail and export components by herself.
She moved to Perth, Australia in 1993 and became the founding manager of
the non-profit, community-based Belmont Business Enterprise Centre Inc.(BEC) in 1994, which assists people in starting new businesses and also helps the growth of already established businesses through advisory, training, and mentoring support.
Carol also identified a need to inspire WA’s youth to start their businesses and began running workshops for aspiring young entrepreneurs. She also established a Clothes Library for the unemployed to borrow corporate garments for job interviews.
By 1998, she was utilising her expertise in the textile and fashion industries by opening the Textile Clothing Footwear Resource Centre of WA Inc. (TCFWA), a not-for-profit national support centre run from headquarters in Belmont, providing fashion business support, specialised resources, projects and online services and training.
One resource they offered was ‘TCF Australia Online Small Business Training and Mentoring Project’, with workshops on website development, web marketing strategies and online sales tools to increase brand exposure, sales and profitability.
Offered to regional and remote businesses, the workshops highlighted positive role models of indigenous fashion and textile designers across Australia, using online technologies to showcase their products and talent globally.
In 2003, Carol staged a trade exhibition called ‘Designedge TCF Australia
Uncovered’ to bring in international buyers. Two years later, this evolved in to ‘Designedge Fashion Incubator’, a retail fashion collective showcasing over 75 WA emerging designers. TCFWA and Belmont BEC are major supporters of Designedge and every year the Designedge Innovation Festival runs Australia’s largest national community Innovation Festival with events, workshops, networking forums, displays and information and webinars, delivers online across Australia and globally.
In 2007, TCF Global was established with a focus on assisting village sewing projects in developing countries. Five containers of donated sewing machines and textiles were sent, assisting 29 village sewing centres to be established in Ormoc, Philippines.
In 2011, she convened the 3rd Annual International Fashion Incubator
Conference in Perth. After attending the 2 nd International Conference in Atlanta USA, Carol was determined to bring the event to Perth to showcase WA to Fashion Incubators and fashion educators from around the globe.
She also identified a need to establish an International Fashion Incubator Network to provide better global networking, exchange of best practices, new opportunities and continued growth and development in the fashion sector, leading her to be inducted into the inaugural WA Women’s Hall of Fame. TCF WA continues to run many annual fashion trade missions to India, Hong Kong, China, Korea and Taiwan assisting designers to research, source supply chains and/or to exhibit.
Featured in the ‘50 Western Australian Women of Success’ for achievement in business during 2013, Ms Hanlon was also named in the ‘100 Most Influential’ Perth Small Businesses Community.
Carol has been invited numerous times to host forums as part of the United
Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) NGO Forums. The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of
women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Taking place in New York annually, Carol’s topics usually relate to the ‘Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs’.
Having a strong connection with Asia, Carol has also hosted many delegations of Australian fashion designers to buying fairs across the continent. In 2015 she facilitated, co-ordinated and presented a TCF Global Designer Panel Intertextile Apparel Textiles in Shanghai. Due to her achievements in assisting women in small business, Carol was also announced as Australia’s Icon in ICONOGRAPH: An Exhibition of Women Icons of APEC, Philippines.
Passionate about India, in recent years Carol has presented sustainable fashion design at the inaugural India Design Confluence in Ahmedabad and led an Australian Delegation to the Women Economic Forum, New Delhi, in 2019.
2019 also saw Carol presented with ‘Woman of the Decade in
Entrepreneurship & Innovation’ Award at Women in Economy Forum Perth, a global event she organized at Curtin University facilitating 120 speakers from over 24 countries to present on ‘Empowering Women Making a Difference through the Sustainable Development Goals’.
Back in Australia, Carol currently runs a series of Incubator projects including:
MY Fashion Incubator Migrant Small Business Training & Mentoring Project-assisting migrants to start or grow their small businesses.
MY Business Incubator Count Me IN Project – assisting employers to breakdown barriers by employing people with disabilities.
Carol Hanlon has inspired, mentored, and trained over 32,000 clients and
gained much recognition for her assistance in the growth and development of small businesses.
As a small business owner herself in the past and now as a Business Facilitator, Carol knows first hand about the challenges small business owners face.
She has truly earned the title ‘Business Dreams Champion’.